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Jacqueline Suskin reflects on her POEM FOREST poem 'Listening to Trees'.

I spend a lot of time sitting with trees and it seems they always have something to say to me if I get quiet and listen. I find the messages are usually quite simple and direct. I like to think that there isn’t much difference between my imagination and my intuition. Am I really hearing the trees talk? Or am I just telling myself what I feel the earth needs me to know? What’s the difference? I like the way a poem and a forest can hold our biggest questions, provide interesting answers, and lead us deeper into understanding ourselves whenever we sit down to write, whenever we lean in and listen.

This is how I got involved with Poem Forest, through writing and deep listening. The Poem Forest began as seeds in many places with the hope of creating positive environmental action through poetry. After reading my story One Poem That Saved a Forest, poet Tamryn Bennett, based in Australia, started following my work. She was so inspired that she created Poem Forest with Red Room Poetry in 2021. After two years of successfully growing the Poem Forest with schools across Australia, Tamryn came to California to join me for a writing retreat. Together, we walked the trails of old-growth redwoods and decided I should bring Poem Forest to schools in the US. Beginning in Detroit, with InsideOut Literary Arts, I piloted the project with urban classrooms and watched its roots take hold in the US. Currently, we’re partnering with The Kennedy Center and Turnaround Arts to develop a national US Poem Forest program. The trees told us what to do, and just like them we were slow, steady, and focused, growing our vision into reality one poem and conversation at a time.